A Night in Havana

Godfather: Part II is disturbingly normal. Tragic, even. In the 1950s, America’s economy flourished under reconstruction. Without a war to concern themselves, politicians took advantage of people like Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) who look to expand the mafia business internationally. Senators see a twisted opportunity to reap financial rewards from Cuba in a silent version of colonialism, and to do so, they’ll let Corleone operate at will.

Micheal never wanted this life. In Godfather: Part II’s final moments, Michael reflects on how little choice he had. His aggression stems not from a want of power, but disdain. People reference Michael’s father in pressure campaigns, noting Vito’s stricter control over emotions and careful consideration when expanding territory. Michael though is not his father, and that’s tragedy.

In Godfather: Part II, Michael reflects on how little choice he had

You can see it on Michael’s face, compliments to Pacino’s masterful performance. A Senator stands on stage, mispronouncing Italian names to a subtly racist tier, then seeks a hidden partnership with Michael, all while joining a committee to take down this family. Michael’s marriage shatters, but he’s stuck trying to honor his father, and doesn’t notice. If Godfather detailed a younger generation fiercely wrestling power from the elders, Godfather: Part II finds the opposite is still possible because of changing world dynamics.

If cinema can only have a single character branded the greatest, it’s Michael Corleone. He sees America as he was taught – of possibility, of wealth, of unwelcome division. Joining the military, he saw a way out, to do better. Then, he was trapped. Ensnared by rotten politics, betrayed by his own kin, and given the right to determine other people’s fates, he slowly, calmly breaks. No, Michael could never be his dad; Vito exuded authority, Michael can barely fake it. Every moment he lives is in tension, fear, because loyalty is a forever changing force.

In a critical scene, Michael asks his mother about family. It’s uncomfortable and awkward, forcing Michael to confront his reality – he never earned the trust of those around him. Instability in the world, including the rise of Fidel Castro and government’s attention on mafia tactics, give Michael nothing. He loses everything for something he refused to accept and never understood. When people die at his command, they do so to Michael’s blank stare. He’s doing this because he was born into it, and that legacy is crushingly cruel, brutal, and hopeless. That’s how Michael sees the world, and so does Godfather: Part II.

Video

Glazed with a sepia/amber hue, Godfather: Part II glows with a vintage veneer, giving flesh tones vibrant warmth while reducing the primary colors intensity. Dolby Vision adds density to this overwhelming warmth, producing a vibrancy unseen before this UHD release. However, the few additional colors that slip through do dazzle, especially in regards to environments or lights.

Warmth does sap some energy from the contrast. Whites take on a tinted look, brightness dimming as a result. Still, there’s power here, emboldened by the technology and that really explodes once in Cuba’s sunlight. Flames look spectacular, and when a focus in the cinematography, light sources bloom gorgeously. On the flip side, crush is inherent to the darker tone/style. That doesn’t change here, although there is unquestionably added details in the shadows when compared to the Blu-ray.

Hefty grain typically covers the image, natural and organic, held as such by the encode. Compression isn’t a concern. Unlike The Godfather, there’s less concern in regards to errant processing. The sequel maintains purity alongside a flawless print that preserves Godfather: Part II minus any damage or scratches. From this, detail can flourish where focus allows. Stunning wide shots resolve impeccable texture from afar. In close, it’s just as precise.

Audio

Wider and more expansive than the original film, the 5.1 TrueHD mix adds zest to Godfather: Part II’s world. Little things jump into the surrounds, like thunder, birds, and insects. Ambiance sounds wonderful without harming the intent. The opening party scene carries band music into the air, alongside the guest’s chatter. Cars move and pan through the soundstage. It’s superb, and better as gunfire erupts, spreading debris and bullets.

Crisp, pure fidelity makes this track sound new. There’s zero wear to the score or dialog. Godfather: Part II stands as an example in properly updating vintage audio.

Extras

The UHD holds a commentary by Francis Ford Coppola. Additional bonuses reside on an extras disc inside the box set.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Godfather: Part II
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

An exemplary sequel that betters the original, Godfather: Part II’s exquisite characterization explores America’s place in international crime through a young Corleone’s eyes.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 54

full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: